Icelandic boutique hosts LA-based designers at pop-up event

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Over 4,000 miles from its namesake and currently 50 degrees warmer, Reykjavik Outpost took advantage of its LA locale to bring artists and designers to Saturday’s pop-up shop event. The local talent infiltrated the Icelandic boutique, sporting platinum blonde hair with dark roots, shift dresses and chunky, asymmetric jewelry. Two frenetic Icelandic women bustled in and out of the back room, only their accents giving them away among the neon-lipped natives.

Although the Outpost normally sells merchandise exclusively designed by Icelanders, the shop’s owners invited local designers to sell their clothing, jewelry, skincare products and other artistic wares for the spring pop-up event. Lumpen ceramic vases sprouting tiny daisies lined the window sills, while bottles of homemade vinegars with watercolor labels stood on another table. Additional racks of clothing crowded the shop.

Each vendor prided themselves on selling handmade and locally produced products, honing in on consumers’ desire to buy goods produced ethically.

“I sell to mostly all small boutiques, everything is made in Los Angeles, most of the fabrics are all knitted locally, so I really try to be really conscious of that,” Jordana Howard, designer of Echo+Air clothing line, said.

Howard displayed her clothing line at Saturday’s event. She was drawn to Reykjavik Outpost’s Icelandic aesthetic, which she describes as combining minimalist designs with folklore traditions. Her own line features items in mostly neutral, solid colors, such as one soft grey cotton dress with a perforated white neckline. She draws inspiration from her Norwegian roots, Japanese pattern making techniques and architectural elements.

The handmade quality of the products also means customers receive unique items unlike anything carried in chain stores, such as jewelry maker Emma Holland Denvir’s honey-colored block earrings and long wooden chevron necklace. Denvir began as a furniture maker and interior designer, sanding the wooden scraps from the furniture at geometric angles to create a line of minimalist jewelry.

The shop’s exotic merchandise—such as leather heels designed in Iceland and produced in Spain—may seem to contradict the visiting designers’ hyperlocal purpose. However, the store and designers have a symbiotic relationship; a pop-up event provides designers with a physical space to display their goods while the store benefits from the influx of new customers. With the exception of an online vintage-inspired clothing store called Red Dress Shoppe, Reykjavik Outpost and its visiting designers are fledgling businesses vying for a spot in the LA fashion world. By expanding their circles, the businesses can access more channels through which to get their brands out.

“This kind of event is great because I sell a lot but there’s some merchandise that looks better in person and so it gives my customers an opportunity to come in and try it on,” Madeline Yang, owner and designer of RedDressShoppe.com, said.

Although the shop is superficially about Iceland, according to co-owner Dröfn Ösp Snorradóttìr-Rozas, the event transcends this theme and touches on the shop’s deeper purpose: to build community.

“We try to also engage with our community here and we represent them and we’re happy for them and have little posters [for their stores],” Snorradóttìr-Rozas said. “It’s all about enforcing the community, we don’t want to feel snooty, snobby, European, better than you.”

As a country with just over 300,000 people, Iceland has somewhat of a small-town culture, an aspect that Snorradóttìr-Rozas is trying to capture in her current business. Since opening in September 2014, Reykjavik Outpost has involved the Eagle Rock community by hosting numerous events, including a documentary screening on March 8, a tapestry workshop on Feb. 19 and an initial pop-up shop in December 2014. For Saturday’s pop-up, each of the designers had personal connections with either Snorradóttìr-Rozas or one of the other artists, rather than applying for inclusion to the event.

“When we do [a pop-up event], we do not charge any of our designers any consignment, because we just want to make small business noise, we just want to make a big splash,” Snorradóttìr-Rozas said.